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GODS, DEVILS, AND MEN                       59

systems and drinking wells wherever he went. The symbol of fire is
also appropriate because it was a life distinguished by an expansive
-spirit, or esprit; in simple words, his temperament and his whole life
were like a leaping flame, giving life and warmth wherever it went and
also destroying certain things on its way.

This leaping flame, according to the record, twice argued with the
devil. For Su went safely upon the assumption that not only the gods,
but also the devil, should be open to a forceful onslaught of his logic.
He hated anything that did not make sense, and even the devil should
be made to see the sense or nonsense of what he was doing. Devils may
be sometimes forgetful or confused, but if by Su Tungpo's eloquence
they could be made to see the folly of what they were doing, they
could also be stopped.

' Once, walking along a mountain road on his return from Fengshiang
to the capital, he was passing Paihua Mountain. One of his guards was
suddenly possessed of the devil and began to take off his clothes one by
one while on the road, until he was completely naked. Su Tungpo
ordered that they put his garments on him by force and have him
bound, but the clothing came off again. Everybody said that the
Mountain Spirit must be angry and that the soldier was possessed. Su,
therefore, went up to the temple and addressed the spirit as follows:

"Dear Mountain Spirit, I am paying thee a visit because I happen
to be passing this way. When I passed here last time, I did not ask
anything of thee and now, when I am returning, I am asking nothing
for myself. I have, however, a guard who is possessed of the devil
and the people say that thou art angry. I do not know whether this
is true or not. He is only a small, insignificant being in thine eyes,
not worthy of the manifestations of thy spirit. If this man had com-
mitted some great crime unknown to others, I would not know what
to say. But if he has committed only small offences, such as negligence
of duties or discourtesy, or perhaps if he has stolen food or dress, thou
shouldst not bother thyself with these small things. It seems to me
that thou, the spirit of a mountain, dost control a vast district, and in
this vast district there are a great many rich and powerful persons
who Commit much greater offences and violations of the law. Is it
not preposterous that thou darest not to manifest thyself against the
rich and powerful, but showest thy anger against a humble soldier?
I am only a small official, dependent upon the service of my little
retinue, and when one of them is ill, there is nobody to do his work.
Wilt thou not please forgive him? I am a stupid and straightforward
person, and am therefore telling thee frankly all this."

As soon as Su Tungpo left the temple after finishing this prayer, a